2 Faces of U.S. Politics: Deep South, New England House Delegations

Photograph by John Bazemore/AP Photo

Democratic Rep. John Barrow hugs a supporter after declaring victory in his race against Republican challenger Lee Anderson at an election-night party on Nov. 6, 2012 in Augusta, Ga.

Two figures in the wake of Tuesday’s election starkly illustrate the differing political vibe in two of America’s more distinct sections — and, more largely, drive home the divide that helps explain stalemate in Washington.

1 – The number of white Democrats who in the next Congress will be among the 38 House members from the five Deep South states of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina.

0 – The number of Republicans in that new session who will be part of the 21 House members from the six New England states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

In those Southern states, the one white Democrat still standing is Rep. John Barrow of Georgia, who survived Republican targeting to win a fifth term with 54 percent of the vote.

Elsewhere in this region, the consequences are clear of the continuing Republican drift of white voters and redistricting that lumps large black Democratic populations in the same political boundaries. In the remaining 37 Deep South House districts, 29 will be represented by Republicans (all white with the exception of Tim Scott of South Carolina) and eight by black Democrats.

In New England, Republicans got shut out when their sole two incumbents in the region — Frank Guinta and Charlie Bass, both from New Hampshire — lost close races to Democratic women — Carol Shea-Porter and Ann Kuster.

A Democratic woman, Elizabeth Esty, also barely bested her Republican opponent for an open seat in Connecticut. And in Massachusetts, Republican Richard Tisei fell just short of knocking off an ethically challenged Democratic incumbent, John Tierney.

A Tisei win would have been notable on a couple of fronts. The Massachusetts House delegation, which will have 9 members in the next Congress, hasn’t included a Republican since 1997. Along with breaking that streak, Tisei would have been the first openly gay Republican to go to Capitol Hill.

Tisei and his backers may be feeling some empathy for Al Gore. A Libertarian Party candidate drew almost 5 percent of the vote in the race that Tisei lost by 1 percentage point.


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